Retrospective Case Series: TCM Therapy Improves Autism/ADHD-Like Behavior in Food Allergic Children

Case Report

Austin J Autism & Relat Disabil. 2021; 7(1): 1055.

Retrospective Case Series: TCM Therapy Improves Autism/ADHD-Like Behavior in Food Allergic Children

Yang J¹*, Zambrano L², Neshiwat J², Primas M², Kroner A², Chung D², Srivastava K², Dunkin D² and Li X-M²

¹Department of Oncology, Fifth Medical Center of PLA General Hospital, Beijing, China

²Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, New York Medical College, USA

*Corresponding author:Jihua Yang, Department of Oncology, Fifth Medical Center of PLA General Hospital, Middle Street of 4th West Ring Road, Beijing, 100039, China

Received: March 15, 2021; Accepted: April 10, 2021; Published: April 17, 2021


Allergens can produce sensory, neurological, and behavioral changes, especially in children diagnosed with autism and/or ADHD. Certain Traditional Chinese Medicines may reduce allergic sensitivity/inflammation and alleviate autism/ADHD like behavioral symptoms. This is a retrospective case series on two patients with allergies, gastrointestinal issues and Autism/Autismlike who had improved behaviors and allergies after a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) regimen. Two patients with autism-ADHD/autism-ADHD-like behaviors and severe allergies were treated using TCM to reduce their allergies and improve their behavior. These effects were achieved when the correct concentrations and doses of a series of TCM teas and treatments were reached. TCM appeared to be safe and well tolerated. TCM significantly improved the behaviors and allergies of both patients, therefore TCM may be a potential remedy for sensory issues, neurological problems and behavioral changes associated with allergies.

Keywords: Traditional chinese medicine; Autism/ADHD-like behavior; Allergy


Atopic diseases are often present in children diagnosed with autism-ADHD at higher rates than healthy controls [1]. Allergic conditions such as asthma, rhinitis and eczema are frequently associated with sleep disturbance in addition to complaints of respiratory difficulty and pruritus. Gastrointestinal discomfort is a common feature of food allergy. These allergic symptoms and underlying inflammation are thought to aggravate autism behavior in patients supporting a link between inflammation and autism [2]. Recent evidence shows that elimination diets are useful in alleviating autism behavior in at least a subset of patients. Studies have reported higher levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-6 and TNFalpha in serum of autism patients and neurological consequences of gut inflammation via a gut-brain axis are now being appreciated [3]. Parents of children displaying co-morbid allergy and autism are more likely to seek alternative and complementary therapy as they encounter higher levels of anxiety and dissatisfaction with standard therapy. We present here a series of two pediatric patients who presented with comorbid food allergy and autism-ADHD/autism- ADHD-like behavior. Parents of both children sought TCM therapy for alleviation of food allergy at a TCM clinic. After a period of therapy with anti-allergy TCM herbal formulas specifically tailored for each child, not only were allergic symptoms reduced but parents also reported noticeable and significant improvement in autistic behavior and reduction in use of autism medication. We surmise that reduction of neurological symptoms in the two patients may in part be due to TCM anti- inflammatory effect and modulate skin-gut-brain axis, requiring further studies. Although there is currently no cure for autism, TCM could aid in improving the behavioral symptoms.

Case Presentation

Case 1

Patient 1 is an 8-year-old male patient diagnosed with food allergies, asthma, chronic constipation, autism with ADHD, Crohn’s Disease, Eosinophilic Esophagitis, and Ollier’s Disease. He had suffered acute pancreatitis at age 1 and a bowel obstruction at age 2. He had three food reactions, 2 of them due to peanut exposure and one due to cashew exposure. He had been on avoidance of peanut and cashew. He also avoided dairy because it caused stomach pain and worsened constipation. His daily ADHD/autism medications included leucovorin, memantine, and atomoxetine. He took polyethylene glycol as needed for regularity and as needed for allergies. His asthma medications included levalbuterol, fluticasone and prednisone. He was also taking dietary supplements, including omega 3 fatty acids, Coenzyme Q10, a probiotic, and magnesium citrate for his constipation. Additionally, prior to TCM clinic visit, the patient had been on a bowel cleanse protocol followed by probiotics. After clinical evaluation, a TCM regimen was prescribed for treatment of food allergies, asthma, and chronic constipation. The regimen included Remedy A and Remedy B taken orally as pills and external Herbal Cream to be applied on the skin. After 3 months of TCM therapy, Patient 1 was no longer constipated, and his appetite improved significantly. Surprisingly, at 6-7 months of therapy, the patient’s mother reported mood improvements, reduced congestion and more regular bowel movements. His speech had substantially improved and he began attending to his bathroom needs independently for the first time. At 1 year of TCM therapy his eosinophilic esophagitis was significantly improved and his constipation was solely controlled by three teaspoons of magnesium. He continued to be in charge of his bathroom habits, gained more muscle mass and appeared to be in better general health. The patient’s mood had improved significantly, energy levels were reported as good and he no longer complained of irritable bowel symptoms. At this time the dosage of magnesium was decreased from 3 teaspoons to 1.5 teaspoons a day. He was able to discontinue atomoxetine, a medication he had been taking for four years. After two years of treatment, his focus, decision making, thought engagement and ability to follow routines were all improved. His total symptom score changed from 17 at baseline to 0 at twelve months of treatment. The improvement of behaviors during TCM therapy is summarized in Figure 1 and 2 (P1). His total IgE was not high and remained low during the TCM (Figure 3, P1). His specific IgE against peanut, walnut, cashew, and hazel nut were above normal arrange (1-2 levels, Figure 4, P1) and also remained low during the TCM. Patient 1 reintroduced peanuts and dairy products into his diet with no reported reactions.